Scollay Square Olympia Theatre

3 Tremont Row,
Scollay Square,
Boston, MA 02108

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rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Yes, it was located at about the far-right north end of the Center Plaza building.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 30, 2011 at 9:45 am

The map doesn’t really show this in the correct location. There is no longer a street called Tremont Row, so to be accurate the map should probably show the Center Plaza building.

EdwardFindlay
EdwardFindlay on April 27, 2011 at 7:31 pm

And yet another of the theatre from the same 50s era: View link

EdwardFindlay
EdwardFindlay on April 27, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Side view from Pemberton Square taken in the mid 50s: View link

EdwardFindlay
EdwardFindlay on April 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm

I assume this is the same theatre taken what looks like after closing but before demolition: View link

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm

In a 1918 Boston street directory, the Scollay Square Olympia Theatre is listed at 4 Tremont Row. At 3 Tremont Row were offices for the Scollay Square Olympia Company, Gordan Brothers Amusement company, and Olympic Theatres, Inc. At 5 Tremont Row was the Star Theatre.

MPol
MPol on March 8, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Interesting website about Scollay Square. I remember it as a young kid in the early to mid-1960’s, before the new Boston City Hall was put in. That was sort of the tail end of the “old” Scollay Square.
The West End was a cool place, before it got bulldozed out of existence. The theatre looked cool.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 8, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Parts from the Scollay Square Theatre’s Wurlitzer organ are incorporated in the “Mighty Wurlitzer” now being installed in the Hanover Theatre in Worcester.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 19, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Although Warren’s photo was taken in 1943, the area was little changed in 1948-50 when I first remember it. It was sort of honky-tonk, but not dangerous. Full of sailors on weekends. Also lots of “wise guys” from the North End and West End. You expected to see the cast of “Guys and Dolls” out on the sidewalk. That kind of place.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 18, 2008 at 3:32 pm

The photo also shows the Rialto’s marquee, next to (closer to the camera than) the Olympia’s.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 18, 2008 at 2:04 pm

For Christmas week of 1921, the theater presented the movie “Lucky Carson”, plus on stage “The Spirit of Mardi Gras” musical revue, plus vaudeville acts. Their ad in the Boston Globe is headed “Gordon’s Scollay Square Olympia” and their motto was “Shows You Talk About”. There is a Christmas greeting from Nathan Gordon, and a note that on Sundays there are “concerts” running from 3PM to 1030PM. The vaudeville shows were called “concerts” to circumvent Sunday “Blue Laws”.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 14, 2006 at 12:24 pm

The total number of seats in the Scollay Square Olympia as listed in the MGM Report of April 1941 is 2,538 – not 3,538 as added incorrectly in my posting of Dec. 2, 2005.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 19, 2006 at 4:54 am

The Olympia is visible on this 1928 map, at the corner of Howard Street and Scollay square. It adjoined the Howard Athenaeum on one side, and the Star Theatre (later renamed Rialto) on the other.

(warning to dialup users: the map image is quite large and will take a long time to load)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 22, 2006 at 10:36 am

There is an ad for the Scollay Square Theatre (no “Olympia”) in the Boston Post for Wed. February 25, 1931. The movie is an action feature about Navy submarines “The Seas Beneath”, plus “Ye Olde Nest Club” floor show on stage with a cast of 75.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 3, 2005 at 10:02 am

The Scollay Square Olympia was designed by Clarence Blackall and opened on Nov. 17, 1913. There is a nice vintage photo of it in David Kruh’s first Scollay Square book which came out circa early-1990s. In that photo, the theatre does not have a marquee, but the entire facade is outlined in light bulbs. It must have acquired a marquee fairly early, because most photos of it show it with one.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 2, 2005 at 10:53 am

As a young kid who thought these theatres would last forever, I was shocked when the Scollay Sq. Th. closed. I still have the clipping from the old Boston Post dated Dec. 13, 1950 reporting that the theatre had quietly closed the previous day. The closure was due to declining revenues and rising costs. I also clipped an ad which is undated but probably is from the 1948-50 period for a one-week engagement of Duke Ellington and his band. Even at a young age, I knew that Ellington was a big star and wondered what he was doing at the Scollay Sq. instead of the Met, RKO Boston or Loew’s State. Also on the bill were Tip, Tap, Toe; Howell & Bowser, Johnny Hodges, Ray Nance, and “Others”. On screen was June Haver in “I’ll Get By”. I never went into it, but remember it well, as it was a landmark in Scollay Square and had a huge vertical sign. Its lobby was on the site of Austin and Stone’s Museum, an old vaude and curiosity house. From this lobby, one went in and then turned right to face the screen. The rear stage wall was on Howard St., right next to the front of the Old Howard. The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for this theatre has a photo dated April 1941, showing the many-bulbed marquee with Alice Fay and Don Ameche in “That Night in Rio”. The Report states that the theatre was not a MGM customer, that it was in Fair condition, and had the following seating : Orchestra, 1081, 1st Balcony, 704, 2nd Balcony, 599, and Loges, 154; total: 3538 seats. It was part of M&P Theatres, a Paramount affiliate. It was demolished, after sitting vacant for years, in March- May 1962.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 21, 2005 at 5:54 am

According to Donald C. King’s new book The Theatres of Boston: A Stage and Screen History, Gordon and Lord’s Scollay Square Olympia opened on November 17, 1913, with 3200 seats.

King says that the Olympia was demolished in 1962.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 30, 2005 at 11:00 pm

A 1947 photo of the Olympia and the next-door Rialto. The photo is described here.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 30, 2005 at 9:09 am

And here’s a 1960 photo of the theatre interior being demolished. (Description here.) You can see the word “OLYMPIA” on the stage curtain.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 30, 2005 at 7:45 am

Oops, my link to “larger 1916 photo of the Scollay Square Olympia” above goes to the wrong place. Here’s the correct link to that photo. Besides “The Strange Case of Mary Page”, a sign also advertises “Fighting Blood” with William Farnum.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 20, 2005 at 9:42 am

Here’s a larger 1916 photo of the Scollay Square Olympia, and the photo’s accompanying description.

Another photo (described here) shows the Olympia and the Star Theatre side-by-side.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 15, 2005 at 1:18 pm

The Scollay Square Olympia was immediately to the right of the Rialto Theatre (originally the Star Theatre) as you faced them from the street. The two buildings shared a party wall.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 15, 2005 at 11:53 am

Part of the 1-2-3 Center Plaza building now occupies the former site of the Scollay Square Olympia.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 15, 2005 at 10:16 am

From the Boston Globe “Ask the Globe” column, November 26, 1989:

Q. When did the old vaudeville theater in Scollay Square close?

A. Once a Boston landmark, the Scollay Square Olympia closed its doors on December 12, 1950, and was sold at public auction the following year. Built in 1914, the Olympia and its sister show palace, the Pilgrim, were meccas for local vaudeville fans. In 1927 the Scollay Square house announced it had created the “finest of health zones” with the introduction of then-novel air conditioning. “You could pay many thousands of dollars to spend a vacation at a camp or resort that has the good effect and curing powers that you can get at the Scollay Square,” the theater advertised. In 1935, in the aftermath of owner Nathan Gordon’s death and the purchase of the house by Martin Mullins and Sam Pinanski, vaudeville gave way to motion pictures, beginning with a double feature — Charlie Chan in Paris and Claudette Colbert in The Gilded Lily.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 15, 2005 at 9:33 am

A photo on page 91 of David’s book, which the caption says was taken “just after the war”, shows the Scollay Square Olympia marquee advertising the movie “Blaze of Noon” with Anne Baxter. This movie was released in 1947.